Watch Your Levels When Temperatures Climb

Whether you are traveling or staying close to home, summer heat can make it harder to manage your diabetes.  Check out these tips to help handle high temperatures:

Heat and diabetes
Summer fun may mean changes to your routine that can affect how you control your blood sugar. Being overheated can also affect how your body handles sugar, which will affect your blood glucose levels.  Heat can help your body absorb fast-acting insulin.  So when it’s hot, check your blood sugar more often than normal and plan to adjust your insulin as needed.

Heat and liquids
We all know being out in the heat can make you thirsty.  Remember to drink plenty of water early – before you even feel thirsty – to keep from becoming dehydrated.  Plan appropriate drinks so you won’t be tempted to grab a high sugar soda, sports drink or lemonade when you are thirsty.

Some people with diabetes have to limit their intake of fluids.  If your doctor gave you instructions on how much fluid you are allowed to drink, talk to him about what you should do during high heat, especially if you are traveling to a climate you are not used to.

Heat and diabetes equipment
High temperatures can affect your diabetes care equipment and your medications.

  • Check the labels on all medications to see if they are affected by heat.
  • Plan ways to control the temperature of your medications, such as keeping them in a cooler in the car to protect them from the heat.
  • Keep insulin out of direct sunlight, and don’t leave it sitting in a hot car.  Also remember that being too cold can also damage insulin, so put it in a cooler, but don’t put it directly on the ice or cooler pack.
  • Read the instructions with your glucose meter and test strips to see what temperatures they can tolerate.  Don’t leave them unprotected in a hot car.
  • If you remove your insulin pump, don’t leave it sitting in the sun or in a hot car.

Whenever possible, plan summer activities for times of day when temperatures are lower, such as early in the morning.  Find things to do indoors during the hottest part of the day.

Heat and insulin pumps
High temperatures that make you sweat may make it hard to keep your insulin pump attached. If your pump has a continuous glucose monitoring sensor, ask your doctor to recommend a stronger adhesive.  If your pump does not feature continuous monitoring, you might have more success if you use skin wipes that leave a tacky residue to prep your skin.  You may also find that using antiperspirant on the area before inserting a new infusion set can help the pump hold in place.  But don’t try this if you have a continuous glucose monitor.  It might affect your readings.

People with diabetes are at greater risk for heat exhaustion, which can progress to heat stroke and become a serious medical emergency. If you are feeling overheated, faint, dizzy, or nauseous, get into a cooler location and drink some water.   Be sure to let someone know that you are overheated and that you have diabetes.

Denise DeWitt is a freelance writer for


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Managing Summer Heat, Travel With Diabetes. Web. June 4, 2012. Type 2 Diabetes. Summer Heat and Safety with Diabetes. Debra Manzella, RN. Web. June 4, 2012.

Diabetes Forecast. 9 Skin Care Tips for Sun Safety. Tracey Neithercott. Web. June 4, 2012.

Related Links:

Summer Strategies for Diabetes,1

Exercising Tips for Diabetes

Diabetes Option: Insulin Pump

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